Residents in the Hidden Valley area of Kitchener had a chance to look over the latest plan for the River Road extension at a Tuesday night public meeting.

The project has been in the works since the 1980s, delayed over concerns for endangered salamanders.

The new design would see a bridge built over Highway 8, connecting to Hidden Valley Road, then turning onto Wabanaki Drive and connecting with Manitou Drive.

“We are now out of the environmental areas with the woodlands and the woodlots, and the salamanders and the native plants of the region,” says Region of Waterloo councillor Jean Haalboom.

The original design went straight through the wetlands, home to a threatened species called Jefferson salamanders.

Protecting the amphibians’ habitat comes with a big bill: about $70 million.

“You’re looking at two bridges, you’re looking at mitigating all the environment,” says Haalboom

“We’re looking at a whole gambit of things that perhaps in earlier days wouldn’t even have been considered.”

Project designers will spend the next two weeks gathering public input and hope to have a final design ready in early 2014.

If everything goes to plan, shovels should hit the ground in 2017.